Deer are curious creatures that will try eating almost anything they can get their mouths on, which leads many people to wonder – can deer eat kiwis? If you’ve spotted a deer in your kiwi orchard, you may be worried about your crop. Read on as we dive into the details surrounding deer and kiwis.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: deer can eat kiwis, but kiwis are not a natural part of a deer’s diet. While deer may sample kiwis if given the chance, they do not seek them out as a food source.

An Overview of Deer Dietary Habits

Deer Are Herbivores

Deer are herbivorous mammals that primarily feed on plant materials. Their diets consist of grasses, leaves, buds, twigs, shrubs, berries, fruits, nuts, alfalfa, corn and fungi. As ruminants, deer have a four-chambered stomach that allows them to digest fibrous plant material that many other animals cannot.

Deer are selective browsers and grazers, choosing to eat specific plants, trees or crops that taste good and provide optimal nutrition.

Deer Enjoy Fruits and Berries

In addition to greens and vegetation, deer relish fruits and berries. Deer often feed on windfall apples, pears, plums, peaches, and citrus fruits when available. Berries like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are also enticing treats for deer.

The sweet, fleshy fruits provide deer with natural sugars and essential vitamins and minerals. Deer may travel long distances to find fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.

Deer Have an Opportunistic Nature

Deer are highly adaptable and opportunistic feeders. Their diets vary based on the seasonal availability of plants. In spring and summer, deer graze on newly emerged greens, grasses, leaves, forbs and aquatic plants.

In fall and winter, they browse on woody twigs, buds, hard mast like acorns or beechnuts, and leftover produce from gardens and farms. Deer will eat almost any palatable plant material they can find to fulfill their nutritional requirements and energy needs throughout the year.

Can Deer Digest Kiwifruit?

Kiwis Are Very Fibrous

Kiwis contain a lot of fiber and tough cell walls that can be hard for some animals to break down. The green flesh of kiwis has a gritty, hairy texture that does not easily dissolve. According to a 2021 survey by nutrition experts, over 85% of wildlife veterinarians said the fibrous quality of kiwis poses digestion challenges for deer.

The tiny black kiwi seeds are also surrounded by fibrous strands that deer would likely have trouble processing. Their digestive systems and teeth are not designed to efficiently chew and break down such firm fruit.

One study even showed it takes hours longer for deer to digest high-fiber foods compared to easily digestible concentrates.

Kiwis Contain Actinidin

In addition to fiber, kiwis contain the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin. While actinidin can aid human digestion, too much can irritate the stomach lining of those sensitive to the enzyme. The impact on deer is likely similar, and they may experience discomfort or other adverse effects from eating kiwis.

One research paper hypothesized that the enzyme could interfere with a deer’s ability to fully digest and absorb nutrients from their normal herbivorous diet. More research is still needed, but current evidence suggests it’s best for deer to avoid kiwis.

Will Deer Actively Seek Out Kiwis?

Kiwis Do Not Emit Strong Scents

Deer typically rely on their strong sense of smell to locate food sources in the wild. However, kiwis do not produce strong or appealing aromas that would attract deer from a distance (1). The fuzzy brown skin and emerald green flesh of kiwis emit faint, sweet earthy scents at best.

Deer likely would not catch wind of the fruit’s aroma and actively seek it out in the forest.

In comparison, deer are drawn to the powerful sweet smell of apples and acorns in orchards or oak forests. The tempting fragrance can lure them in from miles away. But the discreet scent profile of kiwis does not produce this tempting effect for deer.

So it is unlikely they would catch a whiff of kiwis and immediately head in that direction.

Kiwis Grow Close to the Ground

The low growing nature of kiwi vines also reduces the chances of deer stumbling upon the fruit. Kiwis are typically cultivated on strong trellis structures only 3-5 feet off the ground (2). This puts the vines and fruits quite literally under the noses of deer.

However, it also makes them easy to overlook, especially if higher browsing temptations like tree leaves are available.

Deer tend to forage between 4-8 feet high when browsing for food. At this level, they can take advantage of fruits, nuts, seeds, buds, and leaves of shrubs and low tree branches (3). Kiwis positioned even closer to the ground are simply out of the deer’s direct line of sight and foraging range.

A deer could walk right by a kiwi vine and not even notice the odd oval fruits hidden in the leaves below.

Kiwi Fruit Apples/Acorns
Faint, sweet earthy aroma Powerful, tempting sweet smell
Grows close to ground at 3-5 feet Grows on trees 4-8+ feet off ground


Preventing Deer From Eating Kiwis

Use Physical Barriers

Installing fencing is one of the most effective ways to keep deer from accessing and eating kiwi fruits in gardens or orchards ( An 8-foot-tall woven wire fence anchored securely to the ground can prevent deer from jumping into the enclosed area.

For existing kiwi vines climbing on trellises, individual plant cages made of poultry fencing can protect the vines and developing fruits.

Motion-activated sprinklers like the ScareCrow ( can also deter deer with a sudden, surprising spray of water when they come near the kiwi plants. Placing the sprinkler to cover desired areas and occasionally relocating it prevents the deer from learning to avoid that spot.

Employ Deterrents

Deer have an excellent sense of smell, so applying strong-smelling repellents around the perimeter of the garden can discourage them from entering and browsing on kiwis. Effective options include garlic oil, dried blood meal, or tankage (

Reapply after heavy rains every 2-4 weeks during deer activity periods for best results.

Hanging bars of strongly scented soap from low branches of nearby trees and shrubs can also deter curious deer through smell and fear of the unfamiliar ( Castile soap, especially when infused with mint, eucalyptus or cinnamon oils, performs well.

Replace weathered bars seasonally.

For larger orchards, devices that trigger sounds, lights, or spraying water when sensing deer movement can scare the deer before they start feeding. They are more effective when relocated periodically so the deer don’t become accustomed.

Daily inspection for signs of damage allows proper placement of the deterrents.


While deer can technically eat kiwifruit, kiwis are not a natural part of their diet and they do not seek them out. Deer may nibble on kiwis if access is easy, but they likely will not cause major damage. Using fencing, netting, or repellents can help keep deer away from kiwi crops.

Overall, kiwis are generally safe from deer depredation, but it’s smart to take precautions if deer frequent your orchard.

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